Paul L. Hoffman

Paul L. Hoffman
Firm: Schonbrun Seplow Harris & Hoffman LLP
Address: 723 Ocean Front Walk
Suite 100
Venice, CA 90291-3212
Phone: 310-396-0731
Fax: 310-399-7040
Web site:
Offers Free Initial Consultation
Accepts Credit Cards

Areas of Practice Education Honors
Published Works Affiliations Representative Cases
Lawyer Profile:

Private Practice

Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris & Hoffman, LLP  Venice, California March 1994 - Present

In November 1999 I became a partner in Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris & Hoffman, LLP. Prior to that, on March 1, 1994, I established my own law firm. On May 1, 1997, the firm became Bostwick & Hoffman, LLP. My practice has been in the areas of constitutional and civil rights litigation, including First Amendment, discrimination and privacy litigation, and general business litigation; including copyright and trademark litigation. I also specialize in civil and criminal appeals. In October 1998, I was named one of the 100 most influential attorneys in California by the Daily Journal and in February 1999 one of the top trial lawyers in Los Angeles County by the Los Angeles Business Journal.


Legal Director, ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Los Angeles, California. September 1984 - February 1994

I directed the legal program of the ACLU in Southern California which included the supervision of ten staff attorneys and more than 100 volunteer attorneys with a docket of approximately 150-200 pending cases in every area of civil liberties and civil rights practice. In addition, I litigated a full docket of civil liberties/civil rights cases myself. I specialized in cases involving First Amendment rights, police misconduct, privacy, AIDS discrimination, international human rights, criminal justice and the death penalty.

Volunteer Attorney - ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Los Angeles, California. October 1976 - Present

In the period from 1976 to 1984 I litigated more than 20 civil rights/civil liberties cases in the following areas: First Amendment rights, criminal law and procedure, rights of persons with disabilities, race and sex discrimination, voting rights, police misconduct, freedom of information and privacy. I was lead counsel in Coalition Against Police Abuse v. Board of Police Commissioners (the "police spying" cases) and in Wilkinson v. FBI (a challenge to the FBI's COINTELPRO operation against the National Committee To Abolish HUAC). In 1984, I received the Clarence Darrow Award for outstanding First Amendment advocacy for my work in the police spying cases. After leaving the ACLU in 1994, I was named "of Counsel" to the ACLU Foundation and a member of the ACLU Foundation Board. I continue to litigate ACLU cases.

Private Law Practice

Associate Attorney (Litigation Department) Loeb and Loeb, Los Angeles, California August 1976 - August 1981

I participated in the preparation and trial of matters in the following areas: securities regulation, bankruptcy, contracts, business torts, real estate, copyright, defamation and constitutional law. I also handled a number of appeals. I often had primary responsibility for the cases I handled and on several complex cases I supervised several other attorneys and numerous paralegals. I was also a member of several firm committees, including the recruitment committee.

Teaching Experience Fulltime

Associate Professor, Southwestern University School of Law Los Angeles, California. August 1981 - July 1984

Courses: Criminal Law and Procedure, Federal Courts, Civil Rights Litigation Seminar, International Human Rights Law, Public International Law, Contracts. I was also the Co-Director (with Stanley Fleishman) of a clinical program on the rights of the disabled and elderly.


Oxford University/George Washington School of Law June 1980 - Present
Stanford Law School
UCLA School of Law
USC Law School
Loyola Law School
Southwestern University School of Law

In all, I have taught more than 40 separate courses, including First Amendment, Civil Rights Litigation, Constitutional Law Seminars on Equality and Privacy, International Human Rights, International Criminal Justice, Police Abuse Litigation, Slander, Libel, and the First Amendment and AIDS and the Law.


  • Amnesty International: Since August 1999 I have been a member of AI's 9 member International Executive Committee which oversees AI's operations throughout the world.
  • Amnesty International - USA: Chair of the Board (1997-99, 1988-89); Member, Executive Committee (1984-1989, 1992-94, 1997-99); Member of Board (1983-89, 1992-94, 1996-99); Chair, International Council Meeting (1991-97); Founder and National Coordinator, AIUSA Legal Support Network (1982-87); Chair of December 1998 International Summit of Human Rights Defenders (Paris, France). I have also undertaken several human rights missions, diplomatic missions (e.g. as a delegate to United Nations meetings) and trial observations for AI. I have served on numerous AIUSA committees and task forces and I have frequently represented AIUSA in the media.
  • Human Rights Watch: Member of California Committee; Member of Advisory Committee to Asia Watch; Research mission to Ethiopia (1994)
  • Article 19 (International Centre Against Censorship): Member of International Board (since 1999); Chair of 1995 International Conference on Freedom of Expression and National Security (Johannesburg, South Africa).
  • International League for Human Rights: Member of Board
  • Center For Human Rights and Constitutional Law: Member of Board
  • International Human Rights Law Group: Member of Domestic Advisory Committee
Areas of Practice:
Civil and Criminal Appeals
Civil Rights Litigation
First Amendment
General Business Litigation
Privacy Litigation
Trademark Litigation
New York University School of Law, New York, New York, 1976

The London School of Economics and Political Science, June, 1973
Major: Economics

The City College of the City University of New York, June, 1972
Honors: Class Standing: Top 5%
Honors: Phi Beta Kappa
Honors: Magna Cum Laude Regent's Scholarship
Major: International Relations

Published Works:
"Security and Liberty: National Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information,", (Co-Authored with Coliver, Fitzpatrick & Bowen), 1999

"International Human Rights Law and Police Reform," in Zero Tolerance: Quality of Life and the New Police Brutality in New York City", (Co-Author with Eds. A. McArdle and T. Erzen), NYU Press, 2001

"Using Immigration Law to Protect Human Rights: A Legislative Proposal,", ( Co-Author with William Aceves), 20 Mich. J. of Int'l L. 657, 1999

"Safeguarding Liberty: National Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information: United States of America,", (Co-Author with Kate Martin), Secrecy and Liberty, Supra

"The Gag Order in the O.J. Simpson Civil Action: Lessons to be Learned?,", 17 Loyola Ent. L.J. 333, 1997

"The 'Blank Stare Phenomenon': Proving Customary International Law in U.S. Courts,", 25 Ga. J. Int'l and Comp. Law 181, 1996

"Enforcing International Human Rights Law in the United States," in Human Rights: An Agenda for the Next Century", (Co-Author with Nadine Strossen), American Society of International Law, 1994

"Double Jeopardy Wars: The Case for a Civil Rights 'Exception,", 41 UCLA L. Rev. 649, 1994

"The Feds, Lies and Videotape: The Need for an Effective Federal Role in Controlling Police Abuse in Urban America", 66 So. Cal. L. Rev. 1453, 1993

"The Elimination of Torture: International and Domestic Developments" 9 International Lawyer 1351, (Co-Author with Linda Brackins), Fall, 1985

"Public Interest Lawyers: Three Success Stories,", Los Angeles Lawyer, December, 1984

Hannum, "Guide to International Human Rights Practice," and Meron, "Human Rights in International Law: Legal and Policy Issues," 18 International Lawyer 741, Summer, 1984

"The Police Spying Settlement: New Safeguards for Political Expression,", (Co-Author with Robert Newman), Los Angeles Lawyer, May, 1984

"The Application of International Human Rights Law in State Courts: A View from California," 18 The International Lawyer 59, Winter, 1984

"Trade Union Rights Under Article 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights," 5 Comparative Labor Law 149, 1982

"Assignment to Trial Department; Motions; Procedure in Chambers," in California Civil Procedure During Trial, (Co-Authored with Dale L. Gronemeier), C.E.B., 1982

"Environmental Law/The Clean Air Act Amendments," 1974/75 Annual Survey of American Law 641

"The Right of Self-Determination in Very Small Places," 8 N.Y.U. Journal of International Law and Politics 331, (Co-Authored with Professor Thomas M. Franck), 1976

"The United Nations and the Death Penalty," in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

United Nations and Amnesty International, (Co-Authored with Zazi Pope), AIUSA, Fall, 1988

Representative Cases:
Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472 (United States Supreme Court 1995)
United States v. Alvarez-Machain, 504 U.S. 655 (United States Supreme Court 1992)
Reno v. Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, 119 S.Ct. 136 (United States Supreme Court 1999)
Reno v. Flores, 507 U.S. 292 (United States Supreme Court 1993)
San Francisco Arts & Athletics, Inc. v. U.S. Olympic Committee, 483 U.S. 522 (United States Supreme Court 1987)
Board of Directors of Rotary Int'l v. Rotary Club of Duarte, 481 U.S. 537 (United States Supreme Court 1987)
Crawford v. Board of Education, 458 U.S. 527 (United States Supreme Court 1982)
United States v. Messer, 197 F. 3d. 330 (9th Cir. 1999)
Maktab Tarighe Oveyssi Shah Maghsoudi, Inc. v. Kianfar, 179 F.3d 1244 (9th Cir. 1999)
United States v. Phillips, 174 F.3d 1074 (9th Cir. 1999)
Martinez v. City of Los Angeles, 141 F.3d 1373 (9th Cir. 1998)
Alvarez-Machain v. United States, 107 F.3d 696 (9th Cir. 1997)
Hilao v. Estate of Marcos, 103 F.3d 789 (9th Cir. 1996)
Abebe-Jira v. Negewo, 72 F.3d 844 (11th Cir. 1996)
Standing Committee v. Yagman, 55 F.3d 1430 (9th Cir. 1995)
Siderman v. Republic of Argentina, 965 F.2d 699 (9th Cir. 1992)
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee v. Thornburgh, 970 F.2d 501 (9th Cir. 1991)
United States v. Aguilar, 871 F.2d 1436 (9th Cir. 1989)
Chalk v. United States District Court, 840 F.2d 701 (9th Cir. 1988)
Levine v. United States District Court, 775 F.2d 1054 (9th Cir. 1985)
Martin v. International Olympic Committee, 740 F.2d 670 (9th Cir. 1984)
Doe v. Unocal, 963 F.Supp. 880 (C.D. Cal. 1997)
Johnson v. County of Los Angeles, 865 F. Supp. 1430 (C.D. Cal. 1994)
Wilkinson v. United States, 774 F. Supp. 1360 (N.D. Ga 1991)
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee v. Meese, 714 F. Supp 1060 (C.D. Cal. 1989)
Rogan v. City of Los Angeles, 668 F. Supp 1384 (C.D. Cal. 1987)
Thomas v. Atascadero Unified School District, 662 F. Supp 376 (C.D. Cal. 1987)
Wilkinson v. FBI, 633 F. Supp 336 (C.D. Cal. 1986)
Handel v. Artukovic, 601 F. Supp 1421 (C.D. Cal. 1985)
Wilkinson v. FBI, 99 F.R.D. 148 (C.D. Cal. 1983)
People v. Mitcham, 1 Cal. 4th 1027 (California Supreme Court 1992)
People v. Brown, 100 Cal. Rptr 2d 211 (California Court of Appeal 2000)
Del Rio v. Jetton, 55 Cal. App. 4th 30 (California Court of Appeal 1997)
City of Huntington Park v. Superior Court, 34 Cal. App. 4th 1293 (California Court of Appeal 1995)
McCarthy v. Fletcher, 207 Cal. App. 3d 130 (California Court of Appeal 1989)
Ketchens v. Reiner, 194 Cal. App. 3d 470 (California Court of Appeal 1987)
Rubin v. City of Los Angeles, 190 Cal. App. 3d 560 (California Court of Appeal 1987)
Coalition Against Police Abuse v. Superior Court, 170 Cal. App. 3d 888 (California Court of Appeal 1985)
Classes/Seminars Taught:
Associate Professor, Southwestern University School of Law, 1981 - 1984

Adjunct Teaching, Oxford University/George Washington School of Law, 1980 - Present

Adjunct Teaching, Stanford Law School

Adjunct Teaching, UCLA School of Law

Adjunct Teaching, USC Law School

Adjunct Teaching, Loyola Law School

Adjunct Teaching, Southwestern University School of Law

Honors and Awards:
Staff Member, Annual Survey of American Law, 1974 - 1975

Research Associate, International Law Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1975 - 1976

Law Clerk, Manhattan Legal Services (N.Y.U. Public Interest Clinic), 1974 - 1975

RFK Fellow, Office of Congressman Jonathan Bingham, Washington, D.C., 1974

Professional Associations and Memberships:
California Academy of Appellate Lawyers, 2000

Los Angeles Copyright Society, 1997 - Present

Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, 1989 - 1992
Lawyer Representative

The State Bar of California, 1988 - 1991
Member, Committee on Private Bar Involvement in Pro Bono Work

ABA Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities, 1984 - 1988
Program Coordinator, International Human Rights Committee

The State Bar of California, 1983 - 1986
Committee on Human Rights

Los Angeles County Bar Association, Individual Rights and Responsibilities Law Section, 1985 - 1987
Executive Committee

Los Angeles County Bar Association, International Law Section, 1982 - 1986
Executive Committee

Los Angeles County Bar Association, 1980 - 1983
Arbitrator (Legal Fee Disputes)

American Arbitration Association, 1981 - 1985
Arbitrator, Commercial Panel

Los Angeles County Bar Association, 1982 - 1983
Vice-Chair, Arbitration Committee

Los Angeles Municipal Court, 1983 - 1984
Judge Pro Tem

Amnesty International

Amnesty International - USA
Chair of the Board

International League for Human Rights
Member of Board

Center For Human Rights and Constitutional Law
Member of Board

International Human Rights Law Group
Member, Domestic Advisory Committee

Past Employment Positions:
ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, Legal Director, 1984 - 1994

Loeb and Loeb, Los Angeles, California, Associate Attorney (Litigation Department), 1976 - 1981

Stanley Fleishman, Co-Director

Pro Bono Activities:
Volunteer Attorney, ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, 1976 - Present
West Practice Categories:
Business & Commercial Law, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Discrimination, Freedom of Speech, Criminal Law, Estate Planning, Family Law, Copyrights, Trademarks, Litigation & Appeals, Real Estate Law

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